Last time when I put together some targets for the West Indies tour, it was beyond my imagination that, it would go so far. Not only a moderator generously turned it into an article, it made its way to few other cricketing threads as well. Well, that was a big inspiration for me, and was the motivation to set some targets for the upcoming Asia Cup as well.
Asia Cup is a prestigious tournament to find out which nation dominates cricket in a region where it is the most popular game. Not only that, with all those sinister of n-tier cricketing thoughts in the air, we the Bangladeshis, have a duty to prove ourselves in front of the prying eyes of the masterminds behind that idea. With this ultimate goal for the tournament in mind, we need to look for the means that would take us there. Here are few of my pennies.
Beat Hong Kong: At the very first game, we need to achieve our very first target. We need to beat Hong Kong, and beat them up real good. We need to be mindful of the Canada game and have to make sure that we do not take any whimsical step that would jeopardize this win. If we do not award them a win, they can not snatch a victory from us. We need to make sure that this does not happen.
Opening Pair: There is one thing certain about opening in this tournament. We will see Ashraful with the bat at the very beginning. Ashraful, as we all know, is the best for ODI opening in theory, and the worst so far in practice. He has all the materials needed to be an opener, but yet to show it all. No doubt, this is a big challenge for him. His personal target should be to make sure he does not lose his new found confidence. He has just proven himself to be a useful middle order. One might argue that this shifting would shatter his confidence. It is time for him to prove them wrong. His partners, regardless of whether it is Rana, Rafique or Javed, have their own strengths and flaws. But there is not much to talk about since we already know that they will neither do too astonishing nor too dismal. To win ODI matches, we need to learn to take full advantage of the first 15 overs, and only Ashraful has the ability do that.
As Many Win As possible: In this tournament, we will meet three test playing nations in four occasions, facing Pakistan twice. This is our best opportunity to prove that there was neither accident nor fixing involved in World Cup 1999. Yeah, I am talking about beating Pakistan once again. That team is in greatest disarray at the moment which has opened a door of possibility for us. Sri Lanka and India are much stronger opponents, but beatable nevertheless. Is it really true that we can beat India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka? I don't know, and I really care less. It is time for us to believe that we can. We need to play with the target to beat the opponent and go all out to snatch as many wins as possible. As I mentioned elsewhere, we have no excuse now. We have spent over a year under Whatmore now. We are playing in known conditions, and had three weeks time to get use to the environment. Our opponents are not Superman, and most important of all, some wins have been long due. It is time for us to get our fair share and get it now.
Centuries: Now that we have eight test centuries, the number of ODI centuries are crying for a raise. In ODI, centuries and wins tend to go hand by hand. One fast pace century from a single person can dramatically dictate the outcome of the game. Unfortunately, we do not have many candidates who can step up to do that. In this tournament, Bashar and Ashraful should take this responsibility to reach three digits to present some win. I'm not saying that one century automatically ensures win, but it certainly increases the chances, and makes others' job a lot easier.
Stress Handling: There could be many people who disagree with me on this, but I think if we knew how to play the natural game under pressure, we could have 2-3 more wins in the past one year. In Pakistan, Zimbabwe and in West Indies, we lost games where we managed to come so tantalizingly close to win. Some analysts suggest that we are not used to winning and we do not know how to handle situations like those and end up losing games even from advantageous positions. This is an infinite loop we need to come out of. Since this problem is mental, seeking professional help should not be too hard. Believing is winning, they say.
We need to have at least two wins to call this tournament a success. Well, that does not say it all. Say, we get the two wins in the first two matches, and then thinking that we have reached the goal, we give up fighting for the last three matches; I would not call it a real success. Fight for everything, with every possible means in every single match is what I would like to call for. Let the opponents feel tigers' bite every time they face us.